Saturday, September 6, 2014

A rolling celebration marking the end of a stupid bike trail law

Meeting up at the capitol for the pre ride briefing from Richard
Laws are often times made to help and protect us.  Laws are also meant to be revisited and often times changed. Years ago, NR45 was placed in the books for many reasons--to help protect natural areas, to prevent motorized vehicles from going onto trails designated for hikers, cyclists or skiers, to limit human made noise in natural areas etc.  The problem, however, is that NR45 also stated that no one could use the state trails between the hours of 11pm-6am.  This meant if you lived in a town--let's say Monroe, WI--and worked the second shift at the hospital, you would be breaking the law if you chose to bike or walk home via the trail, even if it was the only safe way to do so.  If caught, you could also be fined...heavily.

Being a year round bike commuter, a person who wakes at 4am to go to work (I start work before 6am most days), a Wisconsin Bicycle Federation board member and a tax payer, I had serious issues with this law.  My feelings were and are, fine or arrest someone for disrupting the peace or doing an illegal activity that would harm others but DO NOT waste tax payer dollars and DNR or police resources by fining people who choose to use the trail at night in a peaceful manner.

Four years ago, a ride was started by a local guy, Richard.  Pick Me Up At The Border was not only a way for cyclists to have a safe, fun night ride, but also a bit of a protest against an archaic law.  This weekend marked the fourth ride and a bit of a celebration since it is the first time it is legal.  That's right folks, you can now ride on state trails legally between 11pm-6am thanks to Friends of the Badger State Trail and the Wisconsin Bike Fed.  Like other years, a group of us met down at the state capitol just before midnight, rolled out at a mellow pace on the Badger State Trail as a group until it turned to gravel and then we strung out--some choosing to pick up the pace a bit--all the way to Illinois or until the leaders swung back around and passed you, at which point folks hopped on the night train.

Tunnel break near Bellville on the way back

Monroe pit stop at the new bike trail facility

From capitol to state line to capitol it's 90 miles.  For most of us, however, who choose to ride to the starting point, it's about 100.  This, mind you,  is almost ridden entirely in the dark.  I've spoken about my love for night riding in other posts.  Magic is the only word I can use to describe it.  I love having to focus on what's in front of me in a small lit up circle.  I love seeing the moon and stars.  And I love the surreal feeling, not knowing what time it is, how fast I'm going and where exactly I am.  Add a bunch of friends plus gravel and it's just that much more special.

Wash out--bigger than it looks!
This year saw it's share of hiccups.  The heavy rain the week prior made large sections of the trail feel like b roads.  Some of the wash out was so bad I was actually happy not to see it very well as I slowly rolled my way through.  Flats, yep, there were lots of 'em.  I had my first on my trusty Clement LASs. But all in all it was a great night.  I'm always amazed by how awake I am when I roll back into town. Other than food, there is really very little on my mind at the end.

Thank you Richard for the dreamlike ride and introducing me to some really cool new folks, thanks to Steve for the rapid fire tube change--otherwise I would have been stuck out there for 20 mins. alone, and thanks for letting me follow your fool proof line during our pace line heading back , thanks to the Danimal for keeping the pace and finally thanks to Bill Hauda for getting the law changed!

Quick flat fix for Travis from Stray Cat Cycles

Helping the "winner" lighten the Burley load on the way back

Our little Indiana Jones moment in the tunnel



  1. This is awesome! I've heard about the legendary ride. Looks like you had a good time.